tv Inside Washington PBS December 30, 2011 8:00pm-8:30pm EST
>> reduction assistance for inside washington was provided by allbritton communications and "politico," reporting on the legislative, executive, and political arena. >> i am running for president, so if you get a chance to crockets, remember the name mitt romney. >> this week on "inside washington," the republican showdown in iowa, where polls indicate better numbers for romney, paul, santorum, as gingrich's support weakens. >> how long do we have to stay in korea? we have been there since i was in high school. >> ron paul gets a boost from an unlikely battlefield conversion,
michele bachmann's iowa campaign chair. >> ron paul is in the top tier and i am here to help him. >> a new year comes with a season of primaries. captioned by the national captioning institute --www.ncicap.org-- thanks for joining us. i am mark shields. gordon peterson will be back next week. things have changed since last we were together. newt gingrich's slide in the polls was not helped by his campaign's day year to qualify for the virginia republican primary. -- failure to qualify for the virginia republican primary. >> it was a mistake.
week hired a guy who turned in 11,100 -- [unintelligible] >> he compared that to pearl harbor? i think it is more like lucille ball at the chocolate factory. [laughter] you have got to get it organized. >> gingrich's problems provided an opening for other campaigns, especially that of ron paul and mitt romney, who are vying for iowa, followed closely by rick santorum, who jumped into double digits. jeanne cummings, what wound it, self-inflicted or otherwise, most led to newt gingrich's fall from grace? >> there is much in his background that was going to come up. his work with nancy pelosi in that ad on the environment, the worker for freddie mac, which is an organization that conservatives hate because of
its role in the collapse of the housing market and the millions of taxpayers' money it has had to go to bail it out. what really hurt him the most was when conservative opinion leaders, like charles here at beck, formerlyenbaglenn of a fox, and others, when those people started to come out and say whoa, this is somebody we cannot support, these are people that iowa primary voters really listen to. that gave credence to what became an avalanche of attack ads that ran against him. a 45% of the attack ads run in iowa have all been aimed at gingrich. $2.5 million versus his $250,000 in positive ads. he has been just pummeled with ads that tell people about the
baggage he carries. >> charles, have you been complicit in his downfall? >> i would like to believe everything that jeanne has said. kingslayer is a nice title, although i don't think i deserve it, although the gingrich campaign has implied as much. the reason he has fallen is because there are things in his background, particularly the pelosi ad and freddie mac is stuff, that i think the vast majority of people in iowa didn't know until about three months ago. i had not known about it either, and i am in the business, so i am sure that ordinary iowans, who don't have to follow news as obsessively as i do, for my sins, learning about this were as surprised as i was about tehe pelosi ad and the $1.6 million hit taken in. his opponents level all the fire against him. an unprecedented amount of money
drop on an negative ads, the most of his us -- most vicious of which were from ron paul of all people. he had the most effective negative ad that ran. it was an accumulation of new knowledge. >> the system works. over a long period of time, you find out what people are really like. newt is admirable in many ways but he is just not a credible president of the united states there are real questions about his leadership ability. somebody said he cannot organize a two-car funeral. he has never been a good leader or manager, and now the public knows that. >> it struck me, colby, that the criticism of so many of his former colleagues, of the same philosophical bent as gingrich, also took a toll. >> it started within the
beltway, those in the house and senate who did not want to have him at the top of the to get. -- ticket. they think it hurts the republican efforts in the senate and house. also, what we have learned about newt gingrich is that he is not a good organizer. the fact that he has gotten whacked out there in iowa is because he doesn't have the money to respond to the criticism. he doesn't have much on the tv at all. he does not have the ground troops out there as well. plus, there is his own baggage, newt gingrich himself. he cannot point fingers at anybody. they are putting fingers at his record, could he is, what he has done, and that is taking them down. >> mitt romney does have to make more contemporary his analogies and metaphors. lucille ball in the chocolate factory? that is going back to the korean war. >> marie antoinette he compares obama --
>> that is historical, but lucille ball? there has been a lot of television since then. >> a lot of people want to bring back the 1950's and he is a 1950's sort of guy. >> don draper, that is what mitt romney is. >> but mark, it was a classic episode. [laughter] >> the battle is on for the hearts of true conservatives. >> i am an insider in the sense of being able to get things done, but an outsider in being able to do what i have done, reform congress, throw bombs when they need to be thrown. >> there is a rick santorum, a trumpet in his credentials as an insider-outsider who is willing to throw a bomb when necessary. why, after languishing for months, is a rick santorum catching on at the last moment, charles krauthammer? >> a lot of reasons.
eight years ago on the democratic side, gephardt and howard dean were in the front. they attacked each other viciously in ads. at the last moment, kerry anne edwards slipped in and of course were on the ticket. -- kerry and edwards said in an aura of course were on the ticket. all of those with their heads above the edges have gotten a lot of artillery it at them as a result, except santorum. the only one who has not been touched is santorum. he is now the one who is getting his moment, but the timing is perfect, because he is at the end and there will be any time. there was one attack on him a day or two ago, but it is not going to work. he will now, if he emerges, probably top three, be the non- romney did ron paul is not a possible presidential candidate in the end.
i think he will get in coming, and we will see how he stands up to it. every other candidate who has had his moment in the sun has come down. >> is more than just not being attacked, though. he has some positives that have not been noticed as much outside of iowa. the evangelical conservatives in iowa, which represent a big part of the caucus constituency, they have been the ones who have been shifting and shifting, trying to find their candidate. they are starting to coalesce behind santorum. he received an important endorsement from in evangelical leader in iowa, mr. vander plaats. that is giving some momentum to santorum as well. positive energy as well as a void -- >> whatever is driving it, romney ought to be paying santorum, because he's the perfect blocking guy.
a much bigger threat is if rick perry made a comeback. he has spent a ton of money, and aside from this horrible debates, he is a fairly plausible national candidate. >> perry's numbers are rising. >> i know that, but if it wasn't for santorum, his numbers were really rising -- would be really rising and he would be. a. >> colby, could the emergence of rick santorum and the success of ron paul be a good argument for keeping the caucuses in iowa -- both of them have that traditional role. 99 counties, meeting upon meeting, retail voting -- is that going to pay off? >> it is always helpful. whether it is the primary or caucus is, it allows us to have a good look at the candidates and know who they are, what they are all about. iowa caucus is important.
i don't think people ought to disparage it at all. what we are seeing that is really interesting is the real version that evangelicals have to mitt romney. i don't think that is just an iowa phenomenon. i think we will see that throughout the primaries. romney still needs to make inroads with social conservatives. >> is that because of his faith or his ideology? >> i think it is a combination of people thinking he is more moderate than thapretends to be . i don't think it is his faith in the sense that he is more men, it is that he is not an evangelical like the governor of arkansas was -- >> mike huckabee. >> oh, i think the fact that he is mormon is a liability in
this constituency. they see it as a heretical sect. >> we did a bloomberg poll and we tried to ask the question differently -- >> "are you a bigot?" >> do you believe at mormonism is part of the christian tradition, yes or no? it was about a 50-50 split. the people thought that being mormon was part of the christian tradition had romney as their no. 1 candidate. the people who viewed it as something different had him at fourth. >> was the only republicans? >> republican likely caucus attendees great just to add to evan's thought about rick perry, our reporting indicates that romney's camp has been most afraid of perry, because he has
the money any very good life story to tell. had he not collapsed in the debates, that was the candidate they feared by far the most. >> santorum has appealed to the three reagan leggs of republican ism. on social issues, he is the most reliable. on foreign issues, he is the one who went after ron paul for isolationism. on economics, he is a down-the- line conservative. he does not have a lot of baggage and apostasies on issues. >> ron paul is running one-two out of every poll in iowa. heresy, apostasy, what ever else, what does he have going for him, evan? >> more good news for romney, because he cannot be elected. >> no, but what is his appeal? >> isolationism plays pretty
well in the midwest. they don't want to be in afghanistan, iraq. isolationism does not work nationally, but works real well in iowa. also, he is organized. he has a whole network there, has been there along t -- has been there a long time. >> i watched him with a veteran's group this week in iowa. substantial crowd, but a number of young people went up to him and said, "dr. paul --" they refer to him as dr. paul -- "i am honored to be in your presence." he is almost like a cult figure with some young people out there, and with some veterans as well. veterans will support him. >> he has the biggest veterans' support of anybody in the state as of this moment. to follow up on what colby king had to say, are we making too much of iowa? it is one of the few places
where you still see retail politics, where candidates have to answer questions from real- life people like here dressers and truckdrivers. but not everyone is sold on the continuing significance in the nominating process. gail collins in "the new york times" poke fun at this week at the state for being unrep. does iowa deserve all this criticism, evan thomas? >> yes and no. [laughter] >> there is a bold statement. >> it is not representative in that it is isolationist, extremely far right, and it does not pick president's. but one great thing, and this is a great thing, the retail business, that you actually have to go out there and meet the folks.
because it is a long process and you have to get to know them, you do get to know thaem. their qualities and values are shown. >> i think that tradition has been really eroded in this cycle. santorum did good in 99 counties, bachmann wants to do the same thing. romney barely went there, and now he is closing strong. >> he did campaign for years ago out there. >> he did and lost. this time he was too afraid to commit and put himself out there. what we're seeing in iowa this cycle is what we're seeing nationally, lots of television advertising instead of a lot of the town all sorts of things. we have a debate and tv ads, but not the same sorts of retail politicking from previous cycles. >> in 2008, barack obama got 54%
in iowa, 53% nationally. george bush got 50% in iowa, 50.7% nationally. that is pretty damn representative of the nation if you are talking politically and the way it votes. all the way back in 1996 -- >> but why is that have to be? if what you wanted was ever presented a state that could have won a primary election, have it in missouri and then call it off. if you look at it in context, it works. we arrived by pure accident at a system where it is iowa, new hampshire, south carolina, nevada, and florida as leadoff states. it is a wonderful way to sample the country. it gives each state a chance. i don't see why it has to be a state that is exactly rep. if you put them in context
together, it works. >> it is a wonderful proving ground for the candidates. we learn something about them as a result of the iowa caucuses -- their ability to organize, their ability to define issues. sure, it is sort of a circular firing squad, but newt gingrich was firing blanks and everybody said he would be the heavyweight. this the first in the nation and it will always be helpful, whether it is caucuses or primaries. it focuses our attention on something important. >> iowa will probably always remain first at least for the duration here because who is going to change it? once you open that can of form -- of worms, who is going to be number one if not iowa. if you choose a large state, a candidate that santorum cannot
survive, because they are way too dependent on money to get the message out. you would have a huge fight over who would replace iowa, and for both parties that is not worth having. >> that is the strongest argument, the david and goliath, that you can get the underfinanced, underdog candidate just collecting through sheer effort and personal charisma, whatever, leadership, talent, message, to make a difference. >> and then he gets whacked in new hampshire. >> well, but the two of them together -- you get both of them and then you are basically on the way. >> the candidate brings something to the table, too. chris dodd moved his family to iowa four years ago, and his candidacy collapsed there. >> iowa has never elected a woman member of congress or woman governor. hillary clinton lost their in
2008. michele bachmann -- is her problem, jeanne cummings, gender? >> no, it is not gender. michele bachmann has slipped in the polls across the country. this is not just an iowa think it basically, michele bachmann got in the race, did a good job in the june and today, her debut. she impressed a lot of people, so they said, ok, i will give her a look. part of the problem with the bachmann campaign is that her message never went further than that she came in, she was going to repeal obamacare, she hit all the right notes, and then just kept hitting the same notes. when a fresh face like rick perry entered the race in august, people figured they had consumed as much bachmann as they could get and took a look at perry. she was never able to solidify his support she got early. -- the support she got early.
now we see that her campaign is unraveling. we saw two high-profile members of her iowa campaign machinery, which is all she has left -- she has nothing in new hampshire -- both of them quit, one of them defecting to ron paul. >> ron paul, colby king, is the antithesis of what has been republican orthodoxy of muscular, even interventionist military policy. he asks why we are still in korea when we were there when he was in high school and he is 76 years old. >> i will go to him but i will go back to bachmann, because she has been effective the last couple of weeks, particularly in debates against mitt romney. she mbit it to him like a pit bull -- i'm sorry, newt gingrich -- and wouldn't let go.
likewise, with what paul, she correctly calls him a dangerous candidate, in terms of his foreign policy, is used towards iran and theowards ability to have nuclear weapons. of all the members there, she is best equipped from eight foreign policy stand by to talk about these issues in the middle east because of her membership on the intelligence committee. >> it is fair to say that if ron paul said what he said about foreign policy years ago, he would have been booed out of the room. this year, he says the same thing and there is a receptivity to those remarks that was in prison. -- there is that wasn't present. >> there is an isolationist streak, but hanging over this is iran. if iran does develop a nuclear weapon and israelis go after them and iran closes the str ste
of hormuz, ron paul and any isolationist will look irrelevant. romney pick up on this tape he made a comment that ron paul does not care if iran has a nuclear weapon, i do. >> what is happening is that the iranians themselves are events in the moment of truth, because they are holding maneuvers to close the strait of hormuz as a reaction not to an israeli attack or american attack, but a reaction to the fact that we are going to impose sanctions on the central bank and the europeans are about to impose a boycott. they are threatening an attack against international law. the u.s. navy would certainly keep the strait open, and we would have the beginning of a war, without our intending it, with iran is doing a bluff that was called. >> on that upbeat note, let's go to rearview mirrors and crystal balls. they tested confetti in times
square for new year's eve. we thought we would test our panel's insight in both directions as we enter 2012. what, in your judgment, was the most significant political event of 2011, will begin? >> -- colby king? >> i think it was the fight over raising the debt ceiling, and the ability of republicans to connect that with budget cuts, and obama's inability to negotiate through that maelstrom. he came out as much weaker person, the congress cannot is a much weaker institutions. -- came out as a much weaker institution. >> jeanne cummings? >> twofer. rick perry going blank in the third or fourth debate he was in was a huge, from which he has yet to recover. secondly, the story we had a number of news, the 11 $6 million in -- newt gingrich -- the story we have at bloomberg
news, the $1.6 million that newt gingrich receive from freddie mac. >> evan thomas? >> the fact that politicians in both parties started talking about entitlement cuts. they did not do anything or anything, so it was pathetic in essence, but the very fact that the political body is it talking what cutting entitlement programs is to me momentous. >> charles krauthammer? >> obama maintaining his political strength through a very bad economy and the shellacking in the last election. it began in the year when he gav -- gave the speech in tucson and made himself a sort of the father of the nation for a night, and the end of the year, when he completely outmaneuvered republicans on the deal with the payroll tax cut. he stayed a lot higher than he should be in popularity. >> now, the republican ticket in